We arrived at the Pacific Islands Club in Saipan late in the evening the day before we left the airport in Hawaii; that date line is tricky business! As we were checking in, the desk clerk handed over a handmade welcome kit. You see, when I was planning this whole life change, I did tons of research. I was online for hours looking into homeschooling and life in Saipan, and lucky for me, I came across a blog that an expat family was keeping of their adventure. I assumed that it was an old blog but commented anyway. It turns out, they are actually currently living in Saipan and homeschooling, not due to leave until July. They have become great friends through our journey, sending us several emails preparing us for what life would be like here and informing us of items we needed to bring since they can’t be found here. Their hospitality continued as we received our handmade welcome kit. It contained local foods, activity books for the boys, and a great informational guide of their favorite beaches, restaurants, and local businesses. I pretty much hit the PCS jackpot!
After resting, we opened our eyes to our new life, life on a tiny island about 180 degrees from everything we had ever known. To make the most of it, we hit the beach, learned to crack coconuts, collected shells, swam in warm clear waters, and just enjoyed life. Guilt was setting in a bit about not “schooling” for a couple of days, but hubby brought me back to reality by pointing out that literally every activity we’d done had an academic value, it just wasn’t obtained in the typical classroom environment or by traditional methods. This is, after all, exactly why and how we wanted to be able to homeschool (through life experiences).
We spent the month diving into our surroundings and taking full advantage of all the opportunities that the PIC had to offer. The boys climbed rock walls, swam, tried surfing on machine-made waves, attended every evening show performed, participated in international competitions, snorkeled, learned to play tennis, mastered archery, attended a kids club with various languages being spoken all around them, shot some hoops, played putt putt, danced to a wide range of music, and really lived for once. It was so great being able to allow them to just enjoy life and be themselves without “consequences” for being a little too squirmy or speaking out of turn over their excitement. We really tried to submerge ourselves in the local environments too by going to the street markets, visiting landmarks, and even participating in a community march on Commonwealth Covenant Day. The boys also spent time writing about their new surroundings, crafting characters out of their shells, and completing “Our Island Environment” booklets from the local fish and wildlife division. Their other curriculum was to come from an online source. Unfortunately, internet on the island isn’t nearly as reliable as I had hoped and we didn’t have actual computers with us, just iPads. So early on I realized that I needed to throw out my homeschooling plan, but the boys really rose to the occasion and adjusted well with yet another plan. I’ve learned that my boys are super resilient (even the one that dislikes change and loves a schedule). I’ve also learned that I am capable. That is the most empowering feeling – – I AM CAPABLE! And it feels great to get to be there when your littles are gaining new knowledge and achieving new skills. For example, our oldest performed his first legit cartwheel this month and exclaimed with so much excitement that he had “finally reached his full potential”. Being able to share that with him was so fun, I’m kinda glad I don’t have to send them away and share them with teachers everyday.
The month also included several “grown-up” agendas of securing a rental car, exploring downtown, obtaining a postal box (which is actually difficult here as there’s an arbitrary wait list – I think they save boxes for certain people), house hunting (super hard too – we got seriously mixed up with a greedy businessman that was trying to take advantage of the Army allowance by offering housing that likely would not pass inspection as habitable by state standards), searching for family athletic options, hunting for reliable grocery stores, finding the library and proving that we live here, dealing with phone companies in different time/day zones, and trying to iron out routines.
And so is the diary of a homeschool family adjusting to relocation.
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